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September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie" 
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Post September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
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Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:50 pm
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
Excellent post, Mr. B. Couldn't agree with you more -- I also believe the future is Transformers to the nth degree. More and more, I'm looking to television for more substantive, thought-provoking entertainment. Why bother with lukewarm movies when shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, or The Wire are doing a far superior job of character-building? Besides, with HD (and widescreen LCD/plasma and home theater audio), shows like Mad Men look and sound as good as anything the silver screen can put up there.

The last good movie I saw was The Ghost Writer, and it was fantastic in every way -- from the camerawork to the writing to the acting. Of course I watched it at home.


Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:37 pm
Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
Eh it's the other way around for me, I barely ever watch TV anymore as there's hardly ever anything on that interest me, but I do see alot more movies in theaters now then I did several years ago, and I guess I am lucky because i've never encountered any major problems at either of my local theaters, the staff there are very professional, one time the screen was out of focus when the trailers started and I was pretty worried about what would happen next, but fortunately the problem was corrected almost immediately and there were no more issues for the rest of the screening. The audience has never been much of an issue either, sure there's the occasional person who's using a Blackberry or iPhone to text or whatever, but that's not really a big deal to me as i'm usually too busy enjoying the film to notice or care about that sort of thing, and of course in almost every R-rated film there's at least one child that shouldn't be there, fortunately they're usually pretty quiet, and in the few instances that they were loud, they quieted down pretty quickly. I don't really care how the screening process for films change in the future, as long as the film's themselves remain interesting to me.


Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
James

Nice read but a few factual inaccuracies.

The strange thing at the moment is that 2009 was a monster year at the box office dwarfing recent years. However, 2010 is 4% ahead of 2009 as of this morning.

My personal experience has seen theater going drop from 70 to just under 10 per year over the last two years. It's primarily driven by the repeated bad experiences and having to spend time with morons. I am fortunate and have a big screen (120") and think that 1080P Blu ray is better than most theaters. I also watch "smaller" films on the iPad.

Rob


Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:08 am
Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
I strongly believe that on a fundamental level, movies haven't changed very much at all since their inception. The genres that existed then are the same as today more or less, they attempt to entertain in the same way (either my scaring you, making you laugh,etc.), and we go see them for the same reasons (to be entertained and to see our favorite directors and stars in action). I don't know what will happen in the future, but I don't think the form has ever truly changed.

As for your views on screen size, I used to agree with you but the college experience has given me great doubts. I find that necessity allows me to enjoy a film on my 17 " laptop as much as on my 42" back home. I've also had opportunity to see classics on the big screen, and I was surprised to find the experience to be not a whole lot different from when I watched them at home. I think for movies to maintain their edge over TV, they need to start focusing less on the big screen draw, and more on material that's of higher quality than what TV has to offer.


Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:10 am
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
James, you make it sound like watching movies at a cinema in the USA is an absolute nightmare. Here is Australia I've almost never had a negative experience with projection quality and the attitude of the crowd. People tend to talk an text during the opening trailers, but almost immediately stop once the movie begins. I'm not sure whether it's the different cultural attitudes but it's quite shocking to hear of how many negative cinema experiences you've had...


Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:47 am
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. TV is stealing movies' thunder. I know Facebook catches a lot of flak around here for being shallow, but I find it pretty easy to read the pulse of a large sample of people just by checking out day-by-day status updates. Talk about TV shows vastly outnumbers the talk about movies, I'd say at least 3:1.


Tue Sep 21, 2010 10:20 am
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
I don't watch a lot of TV for a few reasons. First, I don't have any premium channels. Second, I don't really have the time. Third, I don't like commercials. Fourth, I don't have the money to shell out for DVD box sets. I'm pretty sure I've missed out on some good stuff.

Another thing I agree with: I can't imagine watching a movie on a 3.5" screen. That's way too small. I don't even like watching movies on my computer monitor. I don't know how others can do it.

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Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:46 pm
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
I don't watch a lot of TV for a few reasons. First, I don't have any premium channels. Second, I don't really have the time. Third, I don't like commercials. Fourth, I don't have the money to shell out for DVD box sets. I'm pretty sure I've missed out on some good stuff.

Another thing I agree with: I can't imagine watching a movie on a 3.5" screen. That's way too small. I don't even like watching movies on my computer monitor. I don't know how others can do it.

Relaly? I almost always watch films on my computer and I don't feel that it detracts from the experience at all.


Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:28 pm
Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
I personally think that escapism, for the most part, is a myth. I don't doubt that there are some people who legitimately use movies as a narcotizing agent, or who really don't value movies as anything more than a distracting light show. But I think most people are connecting with movies in a more meaningful way, whether they realize it or not. They're not escaping anything, so much as getting in touch with something fundamental.


Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:44 pm
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
I have trouble watching night scenes on the computer; it may be the monitor, but the contrast seems to disappear. I watch a lot of movies from before the 50s, and they usually work well on a computer. Watching a letterboxed movie on a computer screen can be a problem, but that's true on a tv as well.

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Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:09 pm
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
Ken wrote:
I personally think that escapism, for the most part, is a myth. I don't doubt that there are some people who legitimately use movies as a narcotizing agent, or who really don't value movies as anything more than a distracting light show. But I think most people are connecting with movies in a more meaningful way, whether they realize it or not. They're not escaping anything, so much as getting in touch with something fundamental.

It's said that the best films are the ones that make the audience think, more often than not about the human condition. Films like The White Ribbon and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo would certainly fall into this category, IMO. However, there are also films that people go to see for mindless escapist entertainment- films like Transformers and Piranha 3D would probably fit into this category.

I agree with JB's assessment that movie theaters will become the place where people will go to see the largest explosions, because an art-house film does not need to be seen in a theater to be enjoyed. Films like the Star Wars prequels need to be seen in the theater to experience their main (and often only) attraction: the visual effects and sounds. It's a part of the increasing marginalization of entertainment media, since more and more choices are appearing for consumers as our technology improves.


Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:43 pm
Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
What I'm saying is that even if you're going to a movie ostensibly to enjoy a bukkake of CGI fireworks, what's really drawing you in is a character you relate to, a subject that interests you, a question that makes you yearn for an answer, or whatever the case may be. Even if the presentation of those relatable elements is done in the most hackneyed and two-dimensional way possible, they're still there, and the audience would miss them terribly if they were gone.

Maybe it's the atomic bomb explosions that make the movie fun, but it's the heroic efforts of the roguish Dr. Herp-A-Derp and his large-breasted female assistant/love interest that get us to pick a side and root for it. Admittedly, the relationship between the audience and these bland ciphers isn't a terribly deep one, but it's there. For that reason, I have trouble viewing these movies as escapist if people are essentially going to them in order (for example) to meet some interesting characters and see what they're up to.

Cliff's Notes: Even the schlockiest moviemakers in Hollywood are well aware that they can't get away with just mindless action and fart jokes, so they grudgingly sprinkle in a few bits of human interest to keep things on track. That's what hooks you.

For further reading, I suggest the excellent David Bordwell, who is probably less likely than me to use words like "fart" and "bukkake" in his writings on film.


Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:56 pm
Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
Is James Berardinelli gonna have to choke a bitch? wrote:
but 3.5" is too small... in most cases.


*chortles*

Phallus jokes aside I think resolution is soon going to be a bigger deal (or as big a deal as) screen size. What's the sense in having a 100" television whose resolution is 1920x1080 when you can get a 30" LCD whose resolution is 2560x1600? I know studios aren't releasing movies in a resolution higher than 1080p yet, but it's a question of "when" and not "if".


Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:53 pm
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Post Appeal of Movie Stars and improving technology
More than the spectacles, people go to see movies for the stars they love. It's true that TV has improved in quality, and most Indy fare and many mainstream movies are not better than some of the best TV has to offer.

Even though critics like to call non-thought-provoking movies as "escapism". The truth is all movies are escapism; some are funny, exciting, romantic, tear-jerkers, thought-provoking, existential, surreal, neo-realist...etc, but they are all entertainment. I know critics want to imply bad "mainsteam" movies, but there are just as many bad "serious" movies.

I really like the current movie situation, especially Netflix streaming and viewer reviews of movies. It's giving many older movies a new audience. I've discovered many hidden gems by reading the viewer reviews on Netflix. I've also avoided some classics by reading the viewer reviews, that were more honest sometimes than the critics (especially with dated or experimental movies).

It's too short sighted to think that the future of 3-D will only involve action/fantasy films. As technology improves, 3-D will be a great addition to all types of movies. Even in a comedy or drama, 3-D that is immersive can give the audience a new level of experience. I think 3-D will improve to a level that it will be enjoyed by everybody and included in all genres.


Last edited by forwonder on Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:30 pm
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
Quote:
Personally, I can't fathom watching an entire two-hour movie on a 3.5" screen.

That's actually how I watch most movies these days! I just finished watching Sin Nombre on my iPod Touch. It's not so different from watching a movie on a portable DVD player. In fact, the video quality on my iPod is better than the quality on my (cheap) portable DVD player.

Typically I'll rent a DVD from my local video store, convert it to iPhone format, and download it. Then I'll watch it while I'm waiting for the bus, or on the bus, for ten or fifteen minutes at a time.

There's two main advantages:

1. Availability of time. We have two kids, and not much free time. It's hard for me to allocate a block of three or four hours to go out and see a movie in the theater, or even a block of two hours to sit down and watch a rented movie in our living room. But there's lots of times when I'm waiting for ten minutes or so.

2. Privacy. We don't want to expose our kids to violent movies at this age, and my wife doesn't like them. Even after the kids are in bed, I don't want to be watching Zombieland or 30 Days of Night in our living room while my wife is trying to read or get stuff done.

Of course watching a movie on an iPod is a far inferior experience to watching it in the theater. I have to rely on subtitles, because I often can't make out the dialogue over outside noise (I don't want to risk damaging my hearing by turning up the volume too much). And watching a movie in ten-minute segments is a lot different from watching it in one continuous sitting. It's more like reading a book than watching a movie.

But I'd rather be able to watch a movie on my iPod than not at all.


Wed Sep 22, 2010 5:08 pm
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
I do agree partly with James, if only because I have the thankless job of working at one (thanks to the economy). At our theater, we do have a police officer come in on the weekends (and the police department is only a stone's throw away from the theater). It's not just the prices and quality of the movies that are keeping a good deal of people away, but how patrons treat each other as well as the theater employees.

I try to be nice to patrons, even if they are downright rude or hostile. I've had to deal with a dozen of them since last summer, but it's worse during the late fall/early winter period (November & December). I do like how some of our local theaters are enacting a 'no cell phone' policy, and anyone caught texting/calling/surfing the web in the auditoriums will be escorted out without a refund. Patrons are encouraged to turn off their phones or put them on 'vibrate' mode, and only use them in the lobby or outside the theater.

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Wed Sep 22, 2010 5:20 pm
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
One of local theaters is getting pretty tough about enforcing a no cellphone policy as well, there's usually a guy standing by the theater doors that warns you to turn off your phone in advance with the promise that you'll get thrown out otherwise, though I have seen people still use Blackberries.


Wed Sep 22, 2010 5:59 pm
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
Vexer wrote:
One of local theaters is getting pretty tough about enforcing a no cellphone policy as well, there's usually a guy standing by the theater doors that warns you to turn off your phone in advance with the promise that you'll get thrown out otherwise, though I have seen people still use Blackberries.


It should be mandatory for all theater chains, as well as locally-owned ones. The chain I work at is Carmike Cinemas, which unfortunately doesn't have a 'no cell phone' policy. The locally-owned Carousel chains in Greensboro and Alamance County do, albeit they're also a higher-end theater that also runs arthouse films and older films.


Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:59 pm
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Post Re: September 20, 2010: "The Sum and Substance of a Movie"
MPC wrote:
Vexer wrote:
One of local theaters is getting pretty tough about enforcing a no cellphone policy as well, there's usually a guy standing by the theater doors that warns you to turn off your phone in advance with the promise that you'll get thrown out otherwise, though I have seen people still use Blackberries.


It should be mandatory for all theater chains, as well as locally-owned ones. The chain I work at is Carmike Cinemas, which unfortunately doesn't have a 'no cell phone' policy. The locally-owned Carousel chains in Greensboro and Alamance County do, albeit they're also a higher-end theater that also runs arthouse films and older films.

The theater chain by me that has the no-cellphone policy is Marcus Cinema(which is the best of the multiplex theaters BTW), the other theater near me-Tinseltown, which is a branch of the Cinemark chain isn't as strict about cell phones, though fortunately most theater-goers there are smart enough to trun them off.


Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:26 pm
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